BDN developers, MicroStation users need your applications to work with CONNECT Edition applications. Why?
It’s time to update because MicroStation users are updating to the CONNECT Edition and want your applications for their workflows. Additionally, support for your older version application will be discontinued concurrently with the product’s support. It’s time to embrace new technologies that enable better capabilities and faster performance so we continue to deliver the best experience for users
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Hi Mary Kay,
when I read your blog with your “call for development” for the first time, my thought whether it’s a kind of joke, a weird sociological test or an author is living somewhere in an ivory tower and know nothing about real situation.
It would be nice to know more about you, because it would help to understand from what position, with what priorities and aims the blog was written. It’s strange that you as Bentley employee has zero personal information at the community web, but fortunately some are available at your LinkedIn profile. Such situation does not bring any confidence to the blog content.
I do not know what worldwide situation is when talking about migrating applications to CONNECT Edition platform, but I’d like to provide local personal perspective how Bentley are actively working to be an evil, not partner, and to lost both development forces and market share when talking about 3rd party developers. I am aware my local experience (Czech Republic, where I live, plus several other EU countries I am in contact because of projects or communication with users and friends) cannot be generalized, but from talks and some posts at BE Communities it’s seems the problems are not local.Why to migrate an application? It looks like “the chicken and the egg” situation, because why to invest a lot of money to migrate the code when there are no users, but there are no users because there are no applications?
In my opinion the problem is somewhere else: What I have seen for last few years is process when users have stopped to use MicroStation and other Bentley products as their main tool and have converted to competitive alternatives. There are more reasons like slow development (and even slower repair of reported bugs), delayed release of power products like ABD, ORD or BM, bad translation, no support for local and EU standards (critical for building and civil), ignoring open data sources and initiatives (and without access to data, it’s very expensive or even not possible to use any product today) etc. No solution and no solution provider are perfect, but many from the mentioned problems can be solved (or to implement temporary workaround at least) using 3rd party applications, both from independent developers or in-house. What Bentley have done to increase number of developers, to make the development simpler and how they support dev community?
Comparing to the most of competitors (Autodesk, ESRI…) and community driven solution (Postgre / PostGIS, Geoserver…), they actively fight not with, but against developers to demotivate them, to block access and to make the whole process bureaucratic.
Several different types or levels of application development can be recognized and formed to a pyramid: students, hobby and in-house developers and professional developers. When students gain experience with a product and its SDK, they can help with in-house development and to solve specific requirements and to fill gaps that always exist when “big worldwide solution” is used. The same applies to hobby, free-time and in-house developers, often recruited from normal users interested in software development. Some small tools and macros can become so popular they can grow to commercial solution. Also, some part-time developers grow to be professional developers. So, there are two chains: people with potentially growing software development skills and applications growing from simple and specific macros to widely used complex apps. These chains and internal dependencies must be managed and developed as the whole lifecycle.
What (the most of) competitors offer: Clear and well-structured information available at web pages, single click SDKs and other materials downloads (registration required in some cased), developers documentation including tutorials(!) and dev blogs(!) available freely. Let’s imagine a student working on his project or project / CAD admin trying to make the project more efficient. It’s very simple to read available materials, based on obtained information to download a proper tool and to do some hand-on testing quickly.
What Bentley does? Zero information about development at web pages, no public access to development documentation, no dev blog and restricted (BDN membership required) access to SDKs.
What does it mean for students and users: When there are more products used, they will be choose not Bentley, because there are no information and very small community and access to SDK requires to sign and agreement: slow and not acceptable in many companies. In fact, to contact Bentley, negotiation with managers etc. probably requires the same amount of time to have first working beta of a code implemented on competitive platform.What does it mean for managers: Very limited (practically zero) number of available tools (compare with plenty of both free and commercial macros and tools available for other platforms) and very limited knowledge of development coming with students and new employees (because they have no chance to test and play with MicroStation and other APIs). It makes using Bentley products more expensive and less flexible, especially when solving local specifics, local regulations and data formats.
What does it mean for independent developers: The development is far more expensive comparing to other platforms, because it’s not possible to hire a person with MicroStation API knowledge and because there are no tutorials, best practices and very limited examples and community, such person has to be trained internally … for a normal developer, to train him MicroStation, best practices, API and general concepts, it may require even a year to swap from learning to producing working code. No chance for such investment in today highly competitive and quick sprint-based world.And what will happen when a user or company decided to become BDN member? Literally, nothing. The program is completely dysfunctional. Whereas on other platforms it’s clearly defined what is a bonus to become member of developers’ program (e.g. access to extra API, extra documentation, guaranteed support etc.), the only real advantage of BDN is an availability to download SDK. Nothing else.
There is nothing like “program”, because there is zero communication, zero members support, it’s not clear what is BDN team and who is responsible for what, what are long term aims etc. Even BDN conferences organized long time ago (including recordings!) were abandoned as well as workshops, training materials and materials like BDNzine in the past. Comparing to other program memberships I have personal experience with, for Bentley the independent developers are difficult insects not worth to establish professional communication and to build long term win-win relationship. When I normally receive emails about strategy of products development, news, blogs about planned and implemented changes, welcome notes when new manager is hired, planned events from different companies and communities, why do you expect I will choose Bentley with zero interest in cooperation with external developers?
There is the only exception: People like Bob, Arnold, Paul, Yongan and others provides valuable response to problems discussed in programming forums. I guess they are often the last reason why some application has been converted, because without their help, it’s probably easier and cheaper to rewrite applications from scratch (which is often necessary anyway because of huge changes in API and GUI) for another platform with better support and well-organized community.
Thank you for taking the opportunity to be on a call with us tomorrow so we can openly discuss and approach being on the same page of issues you have brought up/mentioned, status updates for existing issues in our backlog priorities, what we are/may be considering in the near (or distant) future, and best practice resources and processes that have the highest success to affect change, etc.
So what came out of this call? Im sure many of us are interesed to hear the status of this.
I thought about to write a notice, but I was busy and you were faster with your question ;-)
The call was open and valuable and it took more than we scheduled originally, but we went through many topics and issues. I appreciate Robert Hook, Sujeet and Sunand spent time at this call. Bob recorded notes, so I am sure nothing will be lost. But I assume it's understandable that it has to be evaluated what can be changed (because it's in BDN / dev teams responsibility) and prioritized and balanced between resources needed and expected output.
Some notes and thoughts, not all discussed during the call, but some just arised as a result of discussed issues: